The light at the end

The worst of the recession is behind the security market
Wednesday, July 15, 2009

We are seeing the light. RFQs are on the upswing, interest in video surveillance, controlled access, and the peripherals so many industry professionals count on to make a living are all experiencing a slight but measurable uptick in activity.

My positive vibes on our niche industry are not based on a Pollyanna dream. Rather they are based on conversations with the 230 physical security integrators that make up the PSA Security Network, the many friends I value in the integrator community that are not associated with PSA, various security consultants, end users, vendors and industry analysts.

We are seeing noticeable, positive results from our integrators. This is not to say we are back to the boom days, but our business is gradually getting better and the fact we can see and measure the improvement brings us one step up from the “we may have bottomed out” phase we only recently experienced.

The electronic security purse strings are still quite tight, but they are slowly being forced open by end user demand and, of course, our old friend, Uncle Sam.

The last year has been quite the experience. In my 30 years in the electronic security business I have never seen such a difficult operating environment. It almost appeared the purchase order faucet was turned off. I do not think we will ever hear again that the security business is recession proof. This will lead to a more cautious environment, which in turn will slow down growth potential. The big boom days may be on hold but many of us remember the days of moderate growth as being bearable and more predictable.

For those still in the survival mode, it matters not who caused the great recession and who or what is improving the security industry environment, the fact is we are seeing the beginning of an improvement and we all need to be thankful we are still here and able to participate in our industry’s recovery.

I think of my neighbors and count my blessings. To my immediate right was a very successful automobile dealer; to my left was a successful luxury home builder. Both homes are empty, but the old bald security guy is still around. Security is not recession proof but we are certainly better off than the many other industries that have been rocked to the core.

So what did we learn about surviving in tough economic times? We learned that security and safety are one of the most important core needs humans have and they will do without certain luxuries before eliminating safety and security for their family and businesses. Everyone wants to feel safe and secure and we are in the business of providing a host of services that provide safety and security.

We discovered we can survive and provide excellent services consumers consider critical even with reduced overhead and inventory. We also learned we can do more with less: We can work harder, we can work smarter, we can become leaner, we can wear multiple hats when necessary.

If there is a bright side to the dark economic cloud it is that the tough times have made us tougher as operators, more resilient, more open to change, and even more appreciative of the industry in which we have chosen to make our livelihood.

Bill Bozeman is the president and CEO of PSA Security. He can be reached at